2012 Annual Report

Aamara Biswas

Women Helping Women through Nano Finance

November 2007 to March 31, 2013

 (Report by Joyasree Mahanti)

 

 

A.      Introduction                                                            Page No.    2

 

B.      Finance Report                                                                          3

 

C.      Details of the Projects                                                                4

 

D.      Table of Areas of Nano Finance Projects                                5

 

E.      Future Plans                                                                              5

 

F.      Project Evaluation                                                                    6

 

                                                                                                                     

 


 

A. Introduction

In November 2007, when the nano Finance project was started in Sambalpur town, the purpose was to give interest free small loans to women who were in extreme poverty for their emergency needs. So, they did not have to go to the money lenders for borrowing money with high interest rates. Due to some legal requirements of the Reserve Bank of India, the organization, Aamara Biswas (AB) , was created on December 14, 2007 to implement the Nano Finance project in Odisha.  I never thought the organization would come this far.

The journey was not always smooth or pleasant. Each experience has taught me something which has helped me to work cautiously and wisely. Most of the ideas which have been implemented by Aamara Biswas have come from the women themselves. According to any standard, Aamara Biswas does not have a very efficient or computerized book keeping system and can be easily manipulated or changed. There is a reason for making the system simple and manually maintained in the local language. So, it will be easy for the women to see the loan transactions. We have to trust each other for the benefit of the organization. Aamara Biswas belongs to the women and they are responsible for its existence. Trust (BISWAS) is the key factor for the success of Nano-Finance.

There is a great demand and need for the expansion of the Nano Finance project in different parts of Odisha. Aamara Biswas prefers to expand slowly and let the women understand the value of small loans and the importance of returning the loans. This also teaches them to be unselfish and help other women due to limited funds. Currently, we work in 45 villages. AB does not make any money from the projects. So, sustainability of the organization is a major concern. Though the coordinators don’t get big salaries, when the project expands, we need more coordinators. Every year, the total salaries of the coordinators are increasing. From 2013, 80% of the salaries will be covered by the accrued interest of the corpus fund (Fixed Deposit). The two production centers have started to make some profit. The purpose of these small centers is to take care of the salaries of the coordinators, teachers, and rent of the office space.

The coordinators are the backbones of Aamara Biswas. Also, the women who take loans from AB are responsible for the success of the project. Most of the women come to the coordinators to return their loan. In a few cases, coordinators have to go to their homes for collection. The reason can be the distance or postponing the interest free loan payment as their lower priority or lack of discipline. The coordinators don’t force or penalize the women for not paying back the loan but remind them of their responsibilities and how their payments help them and others when they are in need. Currently, more than 95% of the loans are returned in less than a year.

There is a problem when a coordinator leaves the organization for another job with a higher salary or other personal reasons without returning the record keeping books.  The new person has a problem taking over the project unless she is from the same area and chosen by the past coordinator. Otherwise, we have to discontinue the project. We can’t collect the loan unless we have the books. Sometimes, the women don’t trust and hesitate to return the money to the new coordinator. It has happened in the past and we had to discontinue the project in Baragarh and Bhadrak district. I feel bad for this situation but justify myself that it is not a loss, because the funds have already helped so many women by re circulating the returned money.


 

B. Finance Report

The exchange value of rupees to dollar is constantly changing.  The amounts in the following table are very close to the exact numbers.

Donations:                                                                             

Year                                        Donation (Rs)                                    Donation ($)                          

2007                                          5,05,270                                11,500            

2008                                        16,44,500                                36,540

2009                                          8,32,000                                18,490

2010                                          6,77,470                                15,050

2011                                        13,65,350                                28,450

2012                                          8,43,970                                16,310

Total                                       58,68,560                              126,340

Fixed Deposits:  

 2008                                         5,00,000                                  11,630

2009                                          5,00,000                                  11,800

2012                                          5,00,000                                  10,400

2012                                          5,00,000                                  10,000

Total                                       20,00,000                                  43,830

Projects:

Nano Finance                          29,45,180                                58,860

Solar Lantern                            6,70,000                                13,960

Drinking Water Filter                3,21,900                                 7,400

Training Centers (3)                  7,49,800                                15,620

Total                                       46,86,880                                95,840

As you see, the total expense of the projects is greater than the total collection minus the fixed deposits. The extra amount is the accrued interest from the FDs, some recovered amount from the Solar Lantern project, and my personal contributions to the training centers  which were not added to the collection in 2011 and 2012.  In 2013, the accrued interest will cover 85% of the salaries of the coordinators and the sewing teachers.

C. Details of Projects                       

i. Nano Finance Project: Aamara Biswas has supported close to 7000 women through Nano Finance project. After taking loans from AB for farming and small trades, many women now have saving accounts in banks. The women have told that, they prefer to take small interest free loans which they can return comfortably without much constrains.  80% loans are taken for improving the livelihood through farming and small businesses. 20% is for health, education, and emergency needs. Once the women understand the benefit of small loans and the principles of Nano Finance, returning the interest free loan is not a problem.    Currently, Aamara Biswas is working in 45 villages and Sambalpur town in the districts of Sonepur, Anugul, Puri, Jagatsingpur, Cuttack, and Sambalpur district.   

ii. Solar Lantern Project: After visiting many interior villages, Aamara Biswas started this project in December 2008. 450 solar lanterns were given to the villagers under the Nano Finance scheme. The collection was difficult due to the distance. AB was depending on people who could travel to the interior parts for the collection. AB couldn’t continue this project under Nano Finance scheme. We recovered about Rs 90,000 ($1800).

iii. Drinking Water Filter Project: Aamara Biswas has started this project in 2010 by buying 555 water filters from a local vendor. The filters and containers are made locally. The filter was developed by a local scientist. Currently, most of the filters are sold to the women of Jagatsingpur district and a few in Sambalpur district under the Nano Finance scheme.  Most of the women understand the importance of clean water and claim that the filters have helped to reduce water borne diseases. AB has bought 460 more filters by re circulating the original invested money.  

iv. Training Centers:

a. Purusottampur Sewing Center:  In Dec. 2010, Aamara Biswas took over a women’s garment production center which was not functioning due to lack of funding by giving Rs. 1,24,000 ($2,850) as a loan to buy raw materials. In this center, there was already an established infrastructure with several sewing machines and other materials to start the production unit with enough trained girls/women in the village. AB has added another Rs2, 00,000 (more than $4000) for buying raw materials in 2012. This center provides livelihood to nearly 20 to 25 girls/women.

b. Kiakata Training/Production Center: In 2011, a small training/production center has been established to give training to young girls/women for making women’s garments.  This is one of the poorest areas AB is currently working in. 50 girls have finishes their training, Many girls have started earning money. They use the machines in the center free for making garments for their business. 10 girls are working in the production center for making ladies garments.  

c. Balikuda Training/Production Center:  In April 2012, a small training/production center has been established to give training to young girls/women for making women’s garments. AB rents a small room for the training purpose. 52 girls have finished their training and started generating income from the sale of the garments. Many women come to the center for using the sewing machines for making garments. Aamara Biswas helps them with the marketing. 

 

D. Tables of Areas of Nano Finance Project

Year from to

District

Amount Invested Rs

Amount Invested $

Loan Disbursed Rs

Loan Disbursed $

Amount Collected Rs

Amount Collected $

No. of Clients

2007 2012

Sambalpur urban area

4,40,000

8,800

 21,90,150

43,803

 18,60,510

37,210

3,900

20082012

Jagatsinghpur (Noliasahi)

1,50,000

3,000

 3,45,600

6,912

3,08,800

6,176

665

20092012

Anugul  (Khamara)

1,60,000

3,200

3,44,400

6,888

1,98,640

3,972

230

20102012

Jagatsinghpur(Balikuda)

3,21,800

6,436

8,30,500

16,610

5,40,700

10,814

1222

20102012

Puri

1,80,000

3,600

3,20,500

6,410

2,60,000

5,200

510

(Rs 50 = $1)

The loan information books of Kiakata village of Anugul district are not maintained correctly. At this time, it is difficult to know the exact number of women that have taken loans and the total collection and disbursement of the loan amount. Hopefully, we will solve the problem soon.  About 1050 women had taken loans from Dec. 2008 to March 2013. The data came from my personal notes. Aamara Biswas has invested a total amount of Rs 2,20,000 for giving loans.

Aamara Biswas has started Nano Finance projects in Purusottampur in 2012 and Sonepur in 2013. We have to wait to see the success of the projects in a few years. 

E. Future Plan

Plan#1: Aamara Biswas is planning to start a small unit in Balikuda village to make low cost sanitary pads for the girls and women which they can afford. Also, this unit will give employment to a few girls. The total amount of Rs 5,00,000 ($10,000) is needed to start this unit.

Plan#2: Aamara Biswas is planning to start a small educational fund to support the girls for attending college after 10th grade. While visiting villages, I find many girls can’t attend colleges due to financial reason. Sometimes, parents take loans with high interest for sending their daughters to college. Government supports education up to 10th grade. A minimum of Rs 6,000 ($120) is needed for attending school which includes admission, books, uniforms, and monthly fees. Currently, AB gives small interest free loans of Rs 1000 ($20) for books, uniforms, and admission. This amount does not cover all the expenses. As a result, some parents have to get loan from other resources with high interest rates. In some cases, the girls just stay home. AB is hoping to start a fund with $5,000 to support this cause.


 

F. Project Evaluation by Joyasree Mahanti

It is overwhelming and exciting to see the impact of Nano Finance on thousands of women in last five years. The women now understand the benefit of working together by taking small interest free individual loans. AB encourages the women to start small trades within their reach and comfort level and expand their trades with time and experience. When they are asked to take bigger loans from micro finance institutions for expanding their businesses, their answer is No; they would rather take a small interest free loan from AB which they can return comfortably at their own convenience within a reasonable time period without going through any other lending agencies.

AB still does not advertise its activities. The women from the nearby areas find it through word of mouth and often come from a distance to take loans. It is difficult to deny   but we don’t have a choice. The coordinators try their best to give loans to the women who are really in need. It is easy to give loans to the same women who have a good credit history. But there are others who are in desperate situations and want to improve their livelihoods with the help of AB. AB provides loans with trust and hopes that the women will return the loans for their own and others’ benefit.

Now AB has reached a stage when it is necessary to train the women for different livelihoods by starting small training centers. This opens the doors for different opportunities for new livelihoods. The other goal of AB is to find a way to have some small businesses where part of the profit can be used for  sustainability of the organization.  For example; the coordinator of the Sambalpur center is making ladies garments in the office space when she is not busy. Kiakata center has a small store for the convenience of the women of the village. Similarly, Balikuda production center has started making some profit by marketing the ladies garments. AB has started to make small profit from these centers.  

I am thrilled with the results and excited to see the progress of each woman even at the smallest level. I see the future of Aamara Biswas through their success stories. The sustainability of Aamara Biswas relies greatly on these women. It is their organization and they are responsible for its existence.

Very often, the women tell their success stories with a smile and excitement by holding my hand. During my recent visit, the women told me that Aamara Biswas had given them strength and taught them how to stand on their own feet. Many women now have started their own savings accounts in the bank with the help of AB. They smile at me with confidence and tell they are not scared of anybody because financially they don’t depend on their husbands any more. They get respect from their husbands and other family members after starting making money. I assure myself that the empowerment of women will change the world.

         

 

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Joyasree Mahanti,
Jun 29, 2013, 9:20 PM
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